The most important trend that will impact housing in 2018 is a continued shortage of attainable housing, as it is causing us to contemplate new methods of design and delivery.
Due to rising commodity prices and the scarcity of skilled labor, constructing buildings using traditional materials and methods requires premium rents and sales prices. Therefore, we are continually looking for new materials and innovative solutions to help our developer clients reduce their costs, so they can bring more housing to the market at attainable rates. In addition to creative design tactics, one of the approaches we have seen gaining traction is the use of modular construction.
Modular construction is a method of construction where large components of a building are fabricated offsite, then transported and assembled onsite. This technique of construction is growing in popularity because just-in-time delivery reduces the need for staging onsite, and can shorten the time it takes to construct a building and bring it to market, which ultimately reduces the cost of financing and some of the risk associated with development. Reduced construction costs also allow the developer to underwrite, and ultimately offer pricing that appeals to a broader segment of the market.
There are a variety of modular construction solutions currently available, and all require unique design approaches and coordination techniques. The key to a successful project utilizing modular construction is assembling a strong team that understands this type of construction, and agreeing on the modular system early in the design process. A knowledgeable and experienced design, engineering and construction team can help navigate the considerations of each system to help a developer make an informed decision on which modular system, if any, will work best based on the requirements of the project. Many of the systems have specific design parameters, so it is critical to make a decision regarding this type of construction at the start of the design process.
An increase in the use of modular construction is one of the trends I see being employed by our industry to address the challenge of rising labor and construction costs, and the associated lack of attainable housing. It is this type of ingenuity and creative problem solving that will allow us to continue creating affordable homes and diverse communities.